Elvis Presley In Las Vegas

Confessions of a Jumpsuit Junkie

Posted by Chuckmonster

Elvis - In Person [ Amazon.com ]

Elvis In Person (at The International Hotel) is an 'edited to fit one LP' recap of Elvis' opening night show at the Hilton. He is in fine form throughout - equally humorous and fantastic. The sound quality and edits on this disc do detract from the overall experience. It would be truly wonderful if RCA would re-release this CD as an un-edited complete concert.

Elvis - Live In Las Vegas (Box Set) [ Amazon.com | iTunes icon ]

For the discriminating collector and Jumpsuit Junkie, RCA has released a 4CD box set documenting Elvis' relationship with Las Vegas. Included are four disc's worth of International performances plus four tracks from Elvis' appearance at the New Frontier On May 6, 1956. Disc One is a nearly complete performance from 8/24/69, towards the tail end of the first engagement. Disc Two takes place almost 12 months later on 8/11/70. Disc Three is spread over two years with the bulk of it taken from 2/14,16,17,18,19/70 and the last 9 tracks from 2/14,16,17/72. Disc Four starts with four tracks from the 5/6/56 New Frontier show (as special guest of the Freddy Martin Orchestra and Comedian Shecky Greene - Elvis was billed as "The Atomic Powered Singer") nine tracks from 8/19,20,21,27/74, five tracks from 3/30/74 and concluding with 4 tracks from 12/6/75. The sound quality on the first two discs are phenominal, the second being a little quieter and less punchy than the first two, and the fourth cd with its "grab bag" of tracks from Elvis' later years is somewhat uneven, but the performances are still worth enjoying.

Surely, the first three discs are the prime focus of this collection. It is no secret that Elvis' powers began to dwindle from 1974 until his unfortunate death in 1977. A focus group asessment of the whole collection can be made by listening to the three versions of "Suspicious Minds" presented in complete performance on each of the first three discs.

Disc One's "Suspicious Minds" was recorded on 8/24/69 and clocks in at 6:32. The tempo is somewhat slower than the "Thats The Way It Is" performance and Elvis, while still fantastic does seem a little out of breath and tired in comparison. The dramatic zeniths are still present, albeit somewhat muted. It is obvious that, three weeks into the engagement that the extreme excitement has worn off. It is still a spirited performance but no match in comparison to the version on the DVD.

Disc Two's "Suspicious Minds" was recorded on 8/11/70 and clocks in at 6:04. The band is noticeably tighter, the backing vocal quartets pop with confidence and spot on harmonies. It is obvious that the ensemble has honed the dramatic curve of this song down to a fine shine. The band rocks throughout and Elvis's voice is up front and effortlessly gymnastic.

Disc Three's "Suspicious Minds" was recorded 6 months later on 2/19/70 and clocks in at an abbreviated 5:01. The tempo is lightning fast and despite the seemingly unmastered bootleg(ish) audience recording quality of the recording the orchestra, horns, backing singers and Elvis himself cut through the reverb drenched rumble of the bass and drums. Elvis breaks down in hysterics in the middle of the song. He seems to be giving more to the physical performance of the song than the vocals. His voice is a little drawn and horse and he sounds a bit out of breath throughout. Regardless, the band rockets through the song building it to a fantastic peak, although not nearly fantastic as the "That's The Way It Is" performance. All in all "Elvis - Live In Las Vegas" is a fantastic account of an extrordinary man's extrordinary relationship with an extrordinary city.

With the exception of Frank Sinatra, no other entertainer's name is as synonymous with the city of Las Vegas as Elvis Presley. Nearly 30 years after his death Elvis is still everywhere in Las Vegas. From photo stands outside the Imperial Palace to Barbary Coast's Big Elvis to the Elvis shows currently playing in lounges all over Vegas, the King truly is still alive. With all this tribute and bastardization of the Elvis mystique at the hands of wannabees, its very easy to forget the undeniable power, artistry and talent that the REAL Elvis Presley had. His life was brief, a burning shining star who fell victim to life's excesses and the power of his own personality, but he left us with so much. Not just the sideburns and the sunglasses and the sequined jumpsuits and the "thankya very much" but the films, the recordings, the music and goddamnit... that voice.

Elvis Has Not Left The Building

Viva las vegas turnin' day into nighttime
Turnin' night into daytime
If you see it once
You'll never be the same again

Further Resources: Careless Love : The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick

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